Happy Camping: Scout How Your Kids Will Spend Their Summer

After more than nine highly structured months with kids in school, summer can seem long and unwieldy. Camp is the answer for many parents.

Traditional sleep-away camps can give urban children a chance to relax and play in idyllic environments. Specialty camps can hone skills in sports, music, drama, religion, or other activities. Others just offer a variety of experiences day to day to allow kids to follow and cultivate their curiosity and imagination.

Here’s how to find the right camp for your child and ensure that he or she will have the best possible experience:
* Visit campparents.org. The American Camp Association’s parent-focused site offers a find-a-camp search tool, allowing parents to narrow choices by cost, camper age, location, length of stay, activities, and more. All of the camps in the database are accredited by the American Camp Association (ACA), Martinsville, Ind., which ensures that they meet minimum standards for health, safety, and program quality.

* Call camp directors. “As a parent, be prepared to articulate what you hope your children will gain from the camp experience,” says Dayna Hardin, owner of Lake of the Woods camp for girls and Greenwoods camp for boys in Decatur, Mich. “When we as camp directors know what parent expectations are, we do a good job of meeting or exceeding them.”

* Don’t offer to rescue. Hardin discourages parents from having some kind of pick-up deal. “Kids are going to feel a little homesick,” she says. “They’re supposed to miss their families, not forget about them. But one of the things about camp is that kids learn coping skills.”

* Visit if you can. Hardin notes that many camps—both overnight and day—welcome parents for visits while camp is in session. It requires planning; parents would have to tour camp the year before they want to enroll their children, but nothing beats that first-hand impression.

* Ask about financial assistance. Many camps offer early enrollment or sibling discounts, and some will arrange payment plans with parents. Every year, 90% of ACA camps offer some kind of financial assistance, often called “camperships,” totaling more than $39 million.

Hopewell Federal can help you save for camp and other family activities by helping create a spending plan. Call us today at 740.522.8311 or stop by for assistance in creating a plan.

Advertisements

ADVISE FOR TEENS: Summer Sun, Fun … And Money!

Summer is around the corner.  So how can you earn some cash?

Begin by asking yourself: What do I most enjoy doing? What am I good at? What special gifts or skills do I have? Here are a few ideas to start:

Love animals? If you have experience caring for pets of your own, you could provide a dog-walking service, or a pet-bathing service. Or you could be a pet-sitter for people on vacation.

Enjoy kids? Babysitters are always in demand. Get special babysitter training at your local Red Cross (www.redcross.org) or YMCA (www.ymca.net).

Are you a good learner? Maybe you’d be an excellent teacher, too. Start a tutoring service to help younger kids improve their reading, math, or science skills over the summer.

Do you love working outdoors? Think of jobs that will keep you outside. Mow lawns. Wash cars. Weed gardens. Or if you have a plot of ground big enough, grow vegetables, berries, or flowers to sell at an outdoor stand.

Have a knack for arts and crafts? Maybe the beautiful things you like to make are items others would like to buy, whether it’s jewelry, stuffed animals, greeting cards, t-shirts…

Like to be on the move? Become a go-fer. Run errands for people who are too busy or physically unable to get to the pharmacy, the grocery store, the library, or the video store.

That’s just a starter list. You take it from here! The key to success is to get the word out about your services or products. Develop a good-looking flyer and post it–with permission–on bulletin boards in neighborhood grocery stores and libraries. You also could pass out flyers door to door, but not in people’s mailboxes. (By law, only U.S. mail can go in mailboxes.)

As you pursue your projects, be sure to let your parents know what you’re doing and where you are at all times. That will spare them worry. And you’ll have a fun, safe, money-making summer.

Five Biggest Summer Spending Blunders

It’s that time of year again. You’re feeling carefree and in the mood to … spend. Hang on to your wallet and beware of the following, according to MSN Money:

Weddings
On average, there are 2.5 million weddings celebrated each year, many in the summer. If you’re on the guest list, plan ahead and budget for gifts. If you see something on sale now, pick it up. The bride will never know you got it for half price.

Garage sales
Warm weather inspires many people to drag out the junk they don’t want and sell it to someone else. Block the temptation–don’t stop at a yard sale unless you’re really looking for something.

Camping
This year you’ll forego the fancy hotel and plane trip and rough it in the woods. Be careful, that $450 sleeping bag that will keep you warm down to -10 degrees Fahrenheit might not be what you need–in the summer. Outdoor sporting goods retailers know consumers want the coolest equipment. Also keep in mind park entrance fees, campsite fees, and other items you’ll need such as firewood and food.

Don’t be taken by the “Old Ball Game”
According to Team Marketing Report, the cost for a family of four to attend a major league ballgame including tickets, food and beverages, and souvenirs is now $194.98. Consider watching the game on TV, or, if you do go, eat before the game and set a limit as to what you’ll spend on extras.

Credit cards
Consider leaving the credit cards at home. It’s easy to use plastic, but your worst nightmare could be paying for that summertime fun after your tan has faded. If you think you will need to use a credit card, talk to someone at Hopewell Federal Credit Union. Credit union credit cards interest rates generally are lower than bank credit card rates.

Copyright 2010 Credit Union National Association Inc. Information subject to change without notice. For use with members of a single credit union. All other rights reserved.